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With all the growing and changing your body does during pregnancy, it’s no surprise there are aches and pains along the way.

One common complaint is abdominal pain. More specifically, 10% to 30% of pregnant people may experience something called round ligament pain. When you feel this pain for the first time, it can be quite alarming.

Here’s more about what causes round ligament pain, how to treat it at home, and when to contact your doctor.

You may feel round ligament pain when you stand up or make sudden motions. The pain can be described as stabbing, jabbing, or sharp. It may even stop you in your tracks for a few seconds.

That said, these sensations are relatively short-lived. They primarily happen when you’re moving quickly from position to position (like rolling over in bed or sneezing).

Pain on the right side tends to be more common. Still, you may feel round ligament pain on the left side, right side, or both sides.

Round ligament pain generally starts in the second trimester or anytime after 12 weeks.

Some people may feel the pain earlier; others may not feel the pain until later. It’s individual and has to do with things like how big your baby is, how you’re carrying, and your body.

The round ligaments are located on either side of your uterus. They are thick cords of connective tissue that help hold your uterus in place within your pelvis.

During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin. This hormone loosens ligaments so they can stretch as your body grows. When the ligaments relax, you may experience hip pain, pelvic pain, knee pain, and — yes — round ligament pain.

Your round ligaments are stretched thin and tight like rubber bands as your uterus grows. When you make sudden movements, the ligaments irritate the surrounding nerves and cause intermittent pain.

No. Round ligament pain does not pose a threat to your health or your baby’s health.

That said, it’s important to get any abdominal pain checked out by your doctor for a proper diagnosis. There’s a lot going on in and around your belly, so any pain is worth mentioning to determine the root cause.

Also talk with your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms with your pain. Some of these symptoms may relate to preterm labor or other conditions that need immediate attention:

  • trouble walking
  • worsening pain over time
  • fever or chills
  • bleeding from the vagina
  • nausea and vomiting

No treatment is necessary for round ligament pain. Still, if it’s bothering you, you may ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter pain medications, like acetaminophen (Tylenol), from time to time.

Other treatments involve some slight lifestyle modifications:

  • Take your time moving from position to position to give your ligaments time to adjust.
  • Lean your body forward if you need to sneeze or cough, or use your hands to support under your belly to take the pressure off.
  • Consider placing a pillow between your knees when you rest or sleep in bed.
  • Try using a pregnancy belly band under your bump for added support.
  • Slip into a warm bath if the pain is nagging you. The warm water may soothe your pain and also help you relax overall.
  • Stretch your body daily to avoid aches and pains. You might even consider trying a prenatal yoga class, either in person or through videos online.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you are having abdominal pain during your pregnancy. They can help determine whether it’s round ligament pain or something that needs more medical attention.

Can you get round ligament pain in the first trimester?

It’s most common to experience round ligament pain in the second trimester. However, all pregnancies are different. It’s entirely possible to have round ligament pain start during the end of the first trimester as well, particularly if you are pregnant with multiples.

Does round ligament pain happen every day?

The pain may happen every day or come and go only when you make sudden movements.

You may find that after making small lifestyle tweaks, like wearing a pregnancy support belt, you don’t notice it as much. Alternatively, the pain may become worse as your belly grows bigger.

Where do you feel round ligament pain?

The pain is felt on either side of your bump, but more commonly on the right-hand side. It may be in a line following the ligament anywhere between your hip to near your groin.

How long does round ligament pain last?

The sharp, stabbing feeling should be temporary — lasting only a few seconds at a time — and should get better with rest.

Your pain should go away after your pregnancy when your hormone levels, ligaments, and uterus return to their prepregnancy state.

Round ligament pain is a common complaint during pregnancy. It does not pose any threat to your health or your baby’s health.

Still, any recurring abdominal pain is worth mentioning to your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Your doctor may also be able to suggest additional ways to prevent or treat the discomfort.

The good news is that your pain should go away soon after your baby is born.